The Rt. Rev. Eugene Sutton writes on forgiveness in The Washington Post. Following the murder of a priest and administrator at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church of Maryland Sutton comments on a country that votes down programs for those who find themselves hungry and homeless and votes up easy access to guns:
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.”
It doesn’t get much more direct from Jesus than that.
Last Sunday many Christians heard in their churches a bible reading from the First Letter of John. It is one of the most quoted in all of the New Testament: “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.”
It is a natural human response to be angry or even vengeful when something like the horrific events of Thursday night, May 3, prematurely ended the lives of two women at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, Md. Both the Rev. Dr. Mary-Marguerite Kohn and Ms. Brenda Brewington loved God’s people. They had committed their lives to extending the love, mercy and compassion of Jesus to anyone who showed up at the church’s doors. And they were martyred while showing God’s love that night.
Knowing that they dedicated their lives to compassion and forgiveness, I think those women would want us to offer any of our churches as a place to host the funeral of the man who gave in to temptation and introduced evil into that parish community.
The anger that I think is justified should be directed at a society that worships the gun. We think that having such weapons readily available will deter crime. Statistics prove that wrong every year with the number of victims of gun violence in the country in the thousands.
The anger should also be directed at those who vote to keep guns so easily available that a disturbed homeless man in a suburban Maryland community could use such a weapon as his answer to the problems in his life.